Monday, March 17, 2014

Book of the Week

The Children of the King

by Sonya Hartnett

Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2014
272 pages

ISBN: 9780763667351

Ages 9-13

During WWII, twelve-year-old Cecily, her mother, and older brother Jeremy are at their family estate in the north of England, where they take in May Bright, a ten-year-old London evacuee. Although younger, quiet May is more mature and independent than Cecily, who is impulsive and bossy but also self-aware and good-hearted. Their tentative friendship is sealed by a shared secret: in the ruins of a castle on the estate, they meet two brothers, formally dressed in ruffled clothes, who claim they can’t go back to London because of the danger. The girls tell no one. Meanwhile, fourteen-year-old Jeremy is seething with anger. War news is grim and he wants to be back in London with their father. He wants to be doing something that matters. With these tensions in the air Uncle Peregrine begins telling a story connected to the history of the ruins, about a Duke and a king and two boy princes and the terrible, warping danger of power. Without ever calling him by name, Uncle Peregrine is spinning the tale of Richard III, his takeover of the throne, and the disappearance and supposed murder of his nephews, legitimate heirs to the kingdom. It is only as the story comes to a close that Cecily and May both realize who--and what--the two boys at Snow Castle must be. Sonya Hartnett’s manages to pen a story both cozy and comforting even as it reveals difficult truths about conflict and power and their impact on children. Loss, leaving home, and growing up and into a deeper understanding of the world, including the difference one can, and sometimes cannot, make, are all explored in a novel of complex, nuanced characters, both the living and dead. (MS) ©2014 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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